Governments in Asia are starting to improve their understanding of business aviation and how it can help to speed economic recovery after Covid-19, according to Jeff Chiang, Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA), chief operating officer.
AsBAA had been active in lobbying governments in the region to explain the contribution of business aviation, he said during the session The View from AsBAA. “The authorities are beginning to take business aviation more seriously. Many governments are not familiar with the sector because it is not as developed as in the US and Europe. But this is changing with increased perceptions of its role as a business tool.”
After witnessing the role of business jets in repatriation flights and undertaking the transport of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and in response to lobbying from AsBAA, governments around the region were reappraising its potential. Chiang said he recently had several meetings with Hong Kong government officials to explain the contribution the sector is making.
Also taking part in the panel, Wu Zhendong, AsBAA chairman, said members were urging the association to lobby governments to relax travel restrictions in the region.
Denied the possibility of face-to-face meetings, AsBAA had focused on staging online meetings, such as it recent first virtual annual general meeting, which attracted 100 delegates. It is also planning a virtual safety forum in November.
One factor frustrating the speed of recovery in the region is the widely varying rates of Covid-19 infection. Zhendong said: “China is probably the first country to bounce back, with repatriation flights in March, a down turn between March and June but things picking up at the end of July and beginning of August.” Covid-19 was “99% under control” in the country and domestic travel had resumed with the airlines displaying “an amazing” recovery, he said.
But other countries, such as the Philippines and Indonesia, were still seeing spikes in the virus. Asked about when business aviation would return to normal in the region, Zhendong suggested the end of this year. Chiang adopted a more conservative view, predicting it would be the first or second quarter of 2021.
Meanwhile, an audience poll conducted during the session indicated that 78% of respondents thought governments were showing an improved understanding of business aviation.
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Above: Jeff Chiang, AsBAA’s chief operating officer. Top: A student on an AsBAA outreach programme photographs ‘the office’ of a business jet.